Many people assume that dreadlocks are a low-maintenance hairstyle, but sometimes they prove to be the opposite. Dreadlocks are always changing, especially in their first year or so when they are going through the "locking" process. If you want them to look a certain way (i.e. neat & tidy), then they will certainly require some extra maintenance, on top of your normal washing routine. Continue reading below to learn about home maintenance and studio maintenance options.
YES YOU CAN WASH YOUR HAIR. Use a clarifying or residue-free shampoo, and no conditioner. Anything with too much conditioner/slip to it will make the hair want to detangle. Focus the shampoo at the scalp area and work it through. Let the water rinse the shampoo through the ends. Rinse THOROUGHLY. Wash your hair as needed, but ideally once a week. The reason for this is because of DRYING them- one of the most important things to understand about dreadlocks. Dreadlocks will retain moisture much longer than brushable hair because of how tightly the hair is grouped together. If they are consistently wet in the middle because they haven’t had enough time to dry out in between washes, they will eventually get musty/mildewy/moldy inside. Therefore, once a week washing is usually sufficient, and if you can get into the habit of using a blowdryer as well, even better.
Separate your dreads. They will naturally want to tangle together and you need to rip them apart as needed in order to keep them separate. If you keep up with it, it shouldn’t be an issue. If you let them go for long periods of time, it will be difficult and painful to rip them apart. Sometimes, if let go for too long, dreads can merge together, and then grow out as one, and then it could be too late to separate them. You’ll end up with one dread that splits into two at the bottom, like a snake tongue. If you come in for a maintenance appointment, you may see us use scissors to assist in separating your dreads. We are professionals- YOU DO NOT USE SCISSORS AT HOME TO DO THIS.
Palm-rolling is one of the easiest techniques that you can use at home to keep your dreads on track. It isn’t as efficient as the crochet hook as far as pulling in loose hair, but it will help prevent shrinking, bumps, and loops, and just keep them a bit more uniform overall. Starting at the scalp area, take one dreadlock at a time between your palms and roll the dread back and forth quickly through your hands, then moving them down to the bottom of the dread.
You should have a crochet hook on hand and learn how to use it. This will help the dreads lock faster, and pull in any loose/frizzy hair or bumps/loops, which will inevitably happen after shampooing and through the locking stage. If your dreads are done properly, and depending on your hair texture, they should just “dread at the root” on their own as your hair grows out. They can be made tighter and cleaner looking by separating them and taking any loose hair at the root and crocheting it in to the base of the dread.
Don’t want to maintain them yourself or feeling overwhelmed? Come see us! You are welcome to set up appointments to get routine maintenance done. This can be extremely helpful in the beginning when your dreads are still locking and maturing. We recommend coming in every 6-8 weeks for new dreadlocks in order to keep them on the right track. After dreadlocks have matured, we recommend coming in every few months/as needed to clean them up and tighten the roots. During maintenance appointments, we work on separating dreads, tightening the roots, crocheting in the loose hair, pulling in loops and bumps, stengthening weak spots and whatever else you may need!
Check out this video where Liz & Kerin do some maintenance and repair work on their long time client, Red!